Thursday, August 27, 2015
Issues of Race and Reproduction and our Culture
In the United States there is currently a wave of anger towards the government and the police by people who are on either side of the political divide of liberal and conservative. Some see the world as held by people who are fascists who control freedoms, some see the world as being consumed by chaos, and evil, with social values collapsing. And some see that they are still paying a cost for being of a race that was used as slaves, and the consequences thereafter. Black Americans are not by any means the only people who suffer, but they suffer in certain situations far more than others, for reasons that supposedly have been dealt with, but really, never have been.
When the great debates happen there are people and ideas that are very important but almost never get heard of, or remembered. It is part of how the psyche of a nation is built, and how the story of a nation is written, edited and then changed by whoever is the writer in power. At one time there were arguments that people under a certain IQ should be sterilized, and kept from society. And to whatever extent that exists, it is far more humane than it ever was in the past. But who is seen as being unfit, who is considered dangerous, and not worthy of childbearing is one that should scare people of moral ideals. The reason for this is that it is not hard to imagine a crisis where food reserves plummet and population control is an actual, darkly real decision to be made. Who gets to populate the earth then will be in hands we have not considered yet. But if you look 100 years back, you can imagine who would have considered the ideal bearers of children, white, blonde, blue-eyed women, impregnated by strong, bright, healthy white males. Looking at society now, can you see a different set of people who would be held up as perfect for such a reason?
In Nazi Germany people of all kinds of limitations, from mental to physical, and from mild issues to devastating ones, were taken into hospitals and terminated. They were called life unworthy of life, or Lebensunwertes Leben. And only after thousands of people complained did it end. In the world today there are people suggesting that "black people have too many children" or that "black people have too low a marriage rate for as many children as they have". If you take those statements (that I've read verbatim in comments in news articles), along with the tragedies that accompany poverty, if a food crisis, or natural disaster or anything of a crisis happens, can you see those views turning for the better? I cannot.
Lebensunwertes Leben included but was not limited to: prisoners, people found sexually degenerate, dissident, people with congenital cognitive and physical disabilities (including feebleminded, epileptic, schizophrenic, manic-depressive, cerebral palsy, neuroatypicals, muscular dystrophy, deaf, blind), homosexual, idle: as in unwilling to work, insane, and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity.
My point isn't to be an alarmist as I've been called before. I am saying this, people in the past tried using Eugenics, Mental asylums, and Sterilization to control population. These practices were not stopped due to overwhelming disgust, but by people comparing the general need to the harsh consequences and beliefs of the people committing these acts. If it happens that Americans are truly better than their past hooray. But Planned Parenthood, which is a woman's health cornerstone, was founded by a woman, Margaret Sanger who believed in Eugenics, and, while she was not a complete racist as some false quotes would suggest, she believed in using reproduction to build society to be stronger, and to weed out the weaker of the crops of humans. Whatever else Planned Parenthood is about, and this is not the debate point, Margaret Sanger believed that through birth control and selective "breeding" society would overcome the birth defects, the issues of retardation and other things that make people modern non-believers in Eugenics uncomfortable.
So, should we throw it all away? Just ignore it all and fuck like monkeys in heat? Hell no. I am trying to make a point that, it is important to be aware that as the world in which we live is facing more and greater shortages, the poor will pay for those, and reproduction will be an area that those people in power try to control. It is not a case where we all can control our world, but being aware is where we can at least make better decisions.
The question needing to be asked is, who gets to reproduce, why them, and how does a society deal with the people it has in it who it considers surplus humanity? I worry that the people who have been struggling with the government and police will be the first to be removed or controlled. And frankly, that is one scary thought.
There are a number of books that have been written about these crisis. Some in a general fashion, some in a very particular fashion, all of the books are worth reading.
"It begins in Ireland, but soon spreads throughout the entire world: a virulent new disease expressly designed to target only women. As fully half of the human race dies off at a frightening pace and life on Earth faces extinction, panicked people and governments struggle to cope with the global crisis. Infected areas are quarantined or burned to the ground. The few surviving women are locked away in hidden reserves, while frantic doctors and scientists race to find a cure. Anarchy and violence consume the planet.
The plague is the work of a solitary individual who calls himself the Madman. As government security forces feverishly hunt for the renegade scientist, he wanders incognito through a world that will never be the same. Society, religion, and morality are all irrevocably transformed by the White Plague." From the publisher's description
Frank Herbert uses the concept of a tailored virus to kill or sterilize a gender to cause a world crisis of enormous consequence. Stunning work.
"Told with P. D. James’s trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling, The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future.
The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race." From the publisher's description
PD James shows how a single fertile woman and a possible birth is a sign of hope, but having the pregnancy come to fruition is not so easy.
"In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.
Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....
Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force." From the publisher's description
This is an aware winning book with a future theocracy in power in the US. With fertility low, and the women who are able to reproduce held up as being worthy, this work is about power, the use of religion to hide power relationships, and dystopia at all levels.
"From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.
Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day." From the publisher's description
This is a great work, and different than the others, but still tells a story about children and dystopia that is powerful.
"Bellwether Prize winner Hillary Jordan’s provocative new novel, When She Woke, tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed―their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes―and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder.
In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith." From the publisher's description
This is not an easy read, as it is about abortion in a world where that is not allowed, in a world where the state determines who gets to do/mate/impregnate/love with whom.